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While the world is in economic recession, a boost in the tourism industry of Maldives has surprised many.

Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Ahmed Ali Sawad last week held a press conference in Male' where he declared that October 2009 recorded unprecedented arrivals compared to any month since 2004. He said that a 10 percent increase was recorded last month compared to the year-ago period.
"It is now predicted that Maldives tourism will pick up more speedily than earlier estimations," he told reporters.
The Tourism Ministry said that some resorts are already reporting full bookings towards December.

British Airways has held a launch party in Male’ for its London-Male’ service.

At the ceremony, Minister for Civil Aviation Mahmood Razee said the arrival of BA had compelled the government to upgrade Male’ International Airport's capabilities for dealing with cargo assets.
"British Airways carries a lot of cargo that originates in the Maldives as well as transit cargo. We needed to put in place aspects of security and assurance, most of it procedural - things like storing cargo in a secure place," he said.
Judy Jarvis, BA's regional commercial manager for South Asia, said that while the route catered primarily to the luxury tourist market and the airline's strength in the package holiday market, the company was also hoping to grow the number of outbound business passengers travelling to the UK.
BA started Maldives services a month back.

Maldives announced ambitious plans to expand tourism at the World Travel Mart held from 10 to 13th November at ExCel London -- the biggest travel trade event held in the United Kingdom.

Maldives Tourism Promotion Board (MTPB) and 70 tourism-related companies from Maldives participated in the fair of which 33 companies represented resorts and hotels.
Crown Tours Maldives was represented by Director Marketing Mr. Ally Ahmed and Manager Reservations Mr. Adam Shakir.
British tourists make up 17.8% of Maldives’ tourist market share. A boost is expected since British Airways began operating to Maldives a month ago.
Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mr. Ahmed Ali Sawad said that the government will move more towards community-based tourism to benefit local people.
“This is about diversifying our tourism portfolio,” he said, adding that wedding tourism could also become a reality.
“We know we are already a popular destination for honeymooners, but we don’t see any reasons why we cannot now explore the potential for weddings for non-nationals here too,” he said.
The government is now keen to encourage development in many projects via its Investment Maldives programme to help the country grow sustainably.
With the arrival of British Airways flights from the UK and flights from Muscat with Oman Air - both launched at the end of October – as well as a drive to get more access from China, India and Europe, he said that investment in upgrading airport facilities at Male’  International Airport was a necessity.
Up to 465,839 tourists visited the Maldives up to September 2009.

Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) is to hold its 20th Annual General Meeting today. The AGM will commence at 1030 hours on the 3rd floor of MATI Building on Buruzu Magu in Male'.

The meeting will pass minutes of the 19th AGM and present the Annual Report and Financial Reports of last year. The Secretary General is scheduled to address the meeting while the Chairman will also make a statement.
Among other items on the agenda include:
Adopt of the Budget for 2010;
Adoption of Financial Report;
Election of Executive Board;
Adoption of Budget for 2010; and
Appointment of Auditors.
MATI is a non-governmental, nonprofit organization formed in 1982, for the purpose of promoting tourism in the Maldives. Its membership comprises of Maldives companies and individuals engaged in travel and tourism related activities; local and foreign travel agents; tour operators, dive bases, suppliers, airlines, banks and financial institution.
The central role of MATI is to assist its members in addressing the problems and issues as may arise in the tourism industry of the Maldives. It co-ordinates its activities in line with Maldivian government policies, and collaborates with other organizations, nationally and internationally, to render its members the necessary services.
For more information, please visit: http://www.matimaldives.com

Louis Cruises India has become the first cruise company to lease an island in Maldives.

LCI, a subsidiary of Louis Cruise Lines part of Louis Group has leased Kuda Bandos island in North Male’ Atoll to berth its luxury cruise ship, MV Aquamarine, which will commence operations from Kochi on December 2, 2009, with itineraries of two nights/three days to Maldives and Sri Lanka.
The leasing of the island, in a strategic partnership with Maldives Tourism Promotion Board (MTPB), is the first of its kind by a cruise company in Maldives and Louis Group plans to develop a resort on the island in near future.
While in Maldives, passengers will have a choice of either opting for Male’ tour or night fishing, resort trip and beach party at Kuda Bandos.

Nasandhura Palace Hotel, a government-run hotel in the capital Male’, has been put up for tender for parties interested in renting the hotel and its accompanying Trends restaurant.

The Tourism Ministry has announced that bid documents are now available and the deadline to submit completed documents is 10 December 2009.
A bid document will be sold to local parties at the rate of Rf2,000 while it will be priced at US$300 for foreign bidders.
Interested parties are required to pay US$50 as a bid security.
The pre-bid meeting will be held on 23 November 2009.
The 31-room hotel was closed in 2008 after the government expressed its intention to lease the hotel to be run by a private party.

MR Infrastructure Global Limited, a subsidiary of GMR Infrastructure limited, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the government of Maldives to upgrade the Hanimaadhoo airport in Haa Dhaalu atoll.

The development of the airport in the Upper North Province of Maldives, which is 287 kilo meters from the capital Male’, is expected to give a crucial boost to the government’s efforts to spread tourism to all remote corners of the archipelago.
Minister of Economic Development Mohamed Rasheed signed on behalf of the government of Maldives, and P. Sripathy, CEO of Hyderabad International Airport, signed on behalf of the GMR group.
President Nasheed said that Hanimaadhoo airport development was linked with tourism development and that the government was now in further discussions with GMR to build resorts in the Maldives with a total bed capacity of 6,000.

President Mohamed Nasheed this week said that the target of achieving carbon neutral status for the Maldives could well be achieved before the 2020 deadline.

On Monday the government launched a US$200 million wind farm project which is expected to reduce carbon emissions by a fifth. The project is to be completed within 20 months by British Falcon Energy.
General Electric Energy, a US$30 billion company, will carry out a feasibility study and build the 75 megawatt wind farm on a coral reef in Gaafaru island in North Male’ atoll.
The foreign direct investment will see the construction of 30 wind turbines that will be connected to Male’s electricity grid through a network of submarine cables.
Tourists to the Maldives, mainly from Europe, are environmentally conscious and travel operators have received news of Maldives’ proposed carbon neutrality with a warm response.

Australia crowned a new surfing world champion in the Maldives at the weekend.

Coffs Harbour's Harley Ingelby finished runner-up to Hawaiian Kai Sallas in the longboard event in the Indian Ocean nation but had enough points from the earlier event in Japan nine weeks ago to win the overall longboard title.

"It's the best day of my life,” the 26-year-old Ingelby told the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) website after the Maldives final. It was surfed in clear one-metre lefthanders off the Pasta Point reef break on Chaaya Island Dhonveli.
Young was on hand in the Maldives as an ambassador for the ASP's longboard tour and had a special present for Ingleby -- an embroided green jacket not unlike the one donned out to US Masters golf champions.


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